Paso Robles starts season with growing pains
PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles High School girls soccer is in rebuild-mode after they said goodbye to 11 seniors from last year’s team.
Not only was the 2018-2019 team deep and full of seniors, but it was comprised of a nucleus of girls that had played together on the varsity for three years. Together they led Paso Robles to a 13-11 record in a brutal Mountain League that featured the eventual CIF Champion SLO Tigers.
This season the Bearcats are starting over, but not exactly from square one head coach Dillon Simoulis has built up a soccer program that is nearly bursting at the seams.
“We have a strong program,” Simoulis said. “We have a frosh team, JV team and our varsity team and this year, we have seven players that were on frosh moving up to JV. We are continuing to get stronger players that understand the way that we play.”
This season Paso Robles only has four seniors on the roster and is primarily made up of sophomores. This has led to some early season growing pains as the girls learn to come together.
“We did lose 11 seniors,” Simoulis explained. “And it’s not that they were significantly more talented or less talented; it is just kind of that experience. So with these eight sophomore players, we are more of a younger team and we are really building on a foundation and really trying to get everyone on the same page and get them prepared for January 2, our first league match.”
The early part of every winter season is comprised of long weekends filled with tournaments followed by extended time off due to the holidays. This can make cohesion tough to build but does help in talent evaluation.
So far in the early part of the season, the Bearcats have struggled. Paso Robles opened the season 1-5-1 and has predictably been unpolished in the finishing third, which is expected with a young and inexperienced group. In the seven officially sanctioned games the Bearcats have played this season, they have only scored more than one goal once, which resulted in their lone victory over Nipomo 2-0 to open the season.
“The girls get along really well, and they really mesh,” Simoulis stated. “They are coming from multiple club teams, and a lot of different things and everyone has kind of come together, and morale is really high among the girls. We aren’t getting the results we want yet, but we are moving in the right direction. We are learning how to win, learning how to play together, so I am happy with that.”
While Paso Robles is young and inexperienced, they do return one of their top players from a year ago, their scoring leader and captain Jordan Bullard, who scored 11 goals in 2018-19. The senior gives the Bearcats a substantial presence upfront and can, at times, slow things down when her team’s play gets a little frenetic.
Together the girls are working on playing their brand of soccer, which Simoulis says is “possession with a purpose. We like to have possession with an attacking purpose.”
The girls will have another shot to fine-tune their offense and communication this weekend when they head to the Peggy Renberg Holiday Classic in Fresno.
Paso Robles’ next home game is on Dec. 20 when they welcome Clovis North into War Memorial Stadium.